In order to obtain a conviction of criminal charges, prosecutors must be able to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If a significant amount of time passes before an investigation into an incident begins, it may be more difficult to meet this high burden of proof as evidence disappears and memories fade. Unfortunately, one man in Virginia has recently found himself facing charges as a result of an alleged sexual assault that took place over 15 years ago.
The incident allegedly occurred in Oct. 2001. Police say that the man had a sexual encounter with an 18-year-old teenager. The alleged victim was reportedly a member of the accused's church young group. Police say that the man touched the victim in an inappropriate manner.
However, representatives for the man claim that the relationship was between two consenting adults. According to reports, the man's wife as well as members of the church congregation were aware of the incident, but it was not reported to police. It is unclear what brought the incident to the attention of police so many years later. He is accused of object sexual penetration and will return to court in early February.
Allegations of sexual assault are always serious. However, in many cases, there is little evidence to support such allegations other than the testimony of an alleged victim, especially when charges come over a decade and a half after the incident. The burden of proof is purposely set high in order to prevent wrongful convictions. Many in Virginia facing criminal charges turn to an attorney with experience with the criminal justice system to help guide them through the process.
Source: wavy.com, "Beach man accused of inappropriately touching woman in church group", Emily Satchell, Jan. 18, 2017